Decision no. ... in the matter of fixing reasonable fees for attorneys or agents under the authority of Section 9 of the...


Material Information

Decision no. ... in the matter of fixing reasonable fees for attorneys or agents under the authority of Section 9 of the "Settlement of War Claims Act of 1928."
At head of title:
American Commissioner
Physical Description:
v. : ; 23 cm.
Mixed Claims Commission, United States and Germany
U.S. G.P.O.
Place of Publication:
Washington, D.C
Publication Date:
completely irregular


Subjects / Keywords:
World War, 1914-1918 -- Claims -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Claims vs. Germany -- Periodicals -- United States   ( lcsh )
serial   ( sobekcm )


Dates or Sequential Designation:
No. 1 -
General Note:
Title from cover.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 004822591
oclc - 50038280
System ID:

Full Text

,53r '5






Simon Schlaigen, Clainmant
Altheimer a'nd Mayer, Attorneys

A mnericanrn Commissioner



Established in pursuance of the Agreement between the
United States and Germany of August 10, 1922

American Commissioner







Sinwn Schla-nyen, Claimant

Althehner and Mayer, Attorneys

The above named claimant has duly filed with the American Com-
missioner a written request that lie fix a reasonable fee to be paid by
him to his attorneys, Altheimer and Mayer, of Chicago, Illinois. as
compensation for whatever services have been rendered by them on
behalf of and with the authority of the said claimant, such services
being of the character described in the provisions of Section 9 of the
" Settlement. of War Claims Act of 1928 ".
The claimant has objected to the amount of the fee asked by his
attorneys on the ground that it is excessive, and the attorneys have
been duly notified of the filing by the claimant of his request that
a reasonable fee be fixed. The attorneys have filed with the Amer-
ican Commissioner an affidavit giving the information which they
desire to have considered by the Commissioner as showing the reason-
ableness of the fee asked, which information has been brought to the
attention of the claimant, who has filed an affidavit in reply, a copy
of which has been transmitted to the attorneys.
30676-29 (157)


In this case an award was rendered by this Commission on March
19, 1925, on behalf of the claimant, for $10,000, with interest thereon
at the rate of five per cent per annum from July 1, 1917, to the date
of payment, which amount represents the value of property in Ger-
many belonging to the claimant and taken over by the German Gov-
ernment through the application of exceptional war measures.
The amount of the fee asked by the attorneys is twenty-five per
,cent of the amount received by the claimant from the Treasury De-
partment in payment of his award in this case. All cash disburse-
ments were paid by the claimant himself and the fee asked by the
attorneys, which, except for a small retainer, was contingent upon
a recovery being had. is to cover all work of every nature done by
these attorneys in this claim.
It appears from the affidavits filed by the attorneys and the claim-
ant that, on December 7, 1922, the claimant employed these attorneys
to prosecute and collect this claim. No written agreement was then
entered into between them, but the claimant paid the attorneys a
retainer fee of $50.00, and it was understood that he was later to
pay them a reasonable fee contingent upon an award being made
and paid.
On January 21, 1925, about two months before the date of the
award in this case, the claimant's son, representing himself as acting
on behalf of his father, and apparently referring to some previous
discussion with the attorneys, wrote to them that he had conferred
with his father about their proposal for a thirty per cent, fee, which
his father thought was too high, and he requested that they give this
matter careful consideration. On January 22. 1925, these attorneys
wrote to the claimant's son suggesting a fee of twenty-five per cent
of the amount recovered. This percentage was agreed to by a letter
to the attorneys dated February 11, 1925, written on the letterhead
of the son's business firm, and signed Simon Schlangen per N. A.
Schlangen." The claimant denies any knowledge of this letter at the
time it was written and states that it was written by affiant's
[claimant's] son. without authority from affiant, and he did not
know of its existence until he saw the photostat copy in the attorney's
affidavit" submitted to the American Commissioner in these pro-
ceedings. On the other hand, the father's initials S. S." are placed
on the letter where it. is usual to plqce the initials of the person
dictating the letter.


The following is a chronological review of the servic-s rendered
by these attorneys as shown by the records of this Commission
and by the information filed by the claimant and the attorneys.
On December 22, 1922, after these attorneys had requested and
received from the State Department forms and data for use in filing
-claims before this Commission, the claimant, at the request of the
.attorneys, called at their office and furnished the necessary facts
and information to enable them to prepare the petition which was
filed with the State Department on December 26, 1922.
This petition, which was four typewritten pages in length, was
accompanied by only one supporting document, namely, a certified
copy of the certificate of naturalization of the claimant.
Nothing further was done about the prosecution of this claim
after the petition was fijed until December 6. 1923, when the Amer-
ican Agency wrote to these attorneys asking them to file the neces-
sary proofs on or before January 15, 1924. The attorneys wrote
in reply to the American Agency that inasmuch as we are entirely
unfamiliar with the procedure in your Department, we kindly ask
that you advise us what proofs you desire to substantiate our claim."
The Agency replied by letter dated December 12, 1923, explaining
The difficulty with the petition on file would seem to be that it rests the
liability of Germany upon the fact that there was a war and that your client
suffered because of such a war. This is insufficient. It must be shown, for
-example, that the German Government took over the claimant's automobile,
-or did some overt act with regard to his property, and this must be proved by
the affidavits or depositions of those having a personal knowledge of the facts.
In similar cases documents have been filed with this Commission in the form
*of letters from Germany or affidavits of persons in Germany who have a
knowledge of the facts. The proofs must be as full as though you expected
to recover judgment before any court.
In response, the attorneys wrote to the Agency on December 17,
1923, that we have just communicated with our client, Mr. Simon
Schlangen, and he has set about to obtain the documentary proof
and evidence which you request." This letter also asked that the time
within which this evidence might, be filed be extended beyond Jan-
uary 15, 1924, and a few days later a month's extension was granted
by the American Agency.
A further interval of seven months elapsed during which these
.attorneys did nothing with reference to the prosecution of this


claim except to write two letters to the claimant urging him to
hurry with the information and data which he was attempting to
obtain, and to hold one conference with the claimant at which they
suggested to him the nature of the documents which he should obtain
from Germany. No communications were received by the American
Agency either from the attorneys or the claimant during this
This failure to proceed with the prosecution of this case caused
the American Agent to send to these attorneys under date of Sep-
tember 17, 1924, a formal notice stating that, in the event, of their
failure to furnish within two weeks from the date thereof the nec-
essary evidence to support this claim, or to give satisfactory reasons
for the delay in furnishing the same, he would apply to this Com-
mission for a dismissal of the claim for lack of evidence to justify its
prosecution. This notice brought forth from these attorneys the
following response, under date of September 22, 1924:
We must at this time state that our evidence and our proof is to be received
from Germany, and that our client has diligently been searching and communi-
cating with certain parties in Germany to obtain such documents, proof and
information. It has not been a question of delinquency on our or our client's
part nor any attempt to retard the progress of this claim, but as stated above
we are waiting for our proof and evidence to be sent us from Europe. We
have written our client several times, and be has written his corresponding
agents for the desired evidence, but up to the present date have had no success.
* It would be highly appreciated if the introduction of such evidence
and proof would be extended for a reasonable time in order to perfect our

Again, on October 7, 1924, these attorneys wrote the American
Agency that they had just been advised by the claimant that the
necessary proof and affidavits in support. of this claim had been
forwarded from Europe and that they were expected to be received
within a very short time. Because of further delays in receiving
these documents from Germany, further extensions of time for their
filing were obtained by these attorneys.
Finally, on November 11. 1924, these attorneys forwarded to the
American Agency the original documents received by the claimant
from Germany, but, because they*were in the German language,
they were returned by the Agency with the request that they be
translated. These attorneys thereupon turned these German docu-
ments back to the claimant who himself arranged and paid for the

English translation thereof. Before forwarding these translations
to the Agency, these attorneys prepared and had executed an affidavit
of the translator certifying to the accuracy of the translation.
On January 8, 1925, the American Agent wrote these attorneys in-
forming them that this claim would be taken up with the German
Agent in an endeavor to progress it to an award and added:
The first part of the claim seems to relate to your client's loss because of
his investment in a brewery at Cologne, Germany. No act of the German Gov-
ernment is shown, and the loss seems to be wholly because there was a war.
This branch of the claim does not come within the liability of Germany as
fixed by the Commission, and some overt act of the German Government would
have to be shown. I can probably get on offer qf settlement on the loss of
the automobile.
If you can assist me in any way by pointing out under what theory it is
claimed that the German Government is liable for the loss of a contract for
the purchase of a brewery, I will be pleased to have you do so.

Subsequent to the receipt of the above letter from the Agency
these attorneys prepared and had executed an affidavit, one type-
written page in length, with reference to the purchase by the claim-
ant and the value of the automobile owned by him and taken over
by the German Government, and also one affidavit, four typewritten
pages in length, signed and executed by the wife of the claimant,
setting forth more specifically the facts from which this claim arose,
particularly the overt act of the German Government in taking over
the claimant's property.
On March 3, 1925, a conference was held at the office of the
American Agent between a representative of these attorneys, the
German Agent and the American Agent. At this conference, which
lasted about an hour, the German Agent proposed a compromise in
this case in the sum of $10,000, with interest from July 1, 1917.
This offer of the German Agent was accepted by the claimant, and
the Agency was duly notified of this fact by the attorneys on March
7, 1925, at which time they also sent to the Agency a power of
attorney, dated March 6. 1925, and signed by the claimant and his
wife, giving these attorneys authority to compromise and settle this
claim on their behalf in accordance with the above offer of the
German Agent. The American and German Agents, on March 13,
1925, signed an Agreed Statement of Fact recommending the above
amount for award by the Commission, which entered an award in
accordance with this recommendation a few days later.


B 1111I IIH IIIIlB 1111111111111111111 B IIIIM lI
162 3 1262 08484 2086

In this connection, it should be riited that the claimant, at the -.
attorneys' suggestion, advanced to them the sum of $125.00 which .,
was used by them for the travelling expenses of their representative. -.
in attending the above mentioned conference with the American and.
German Agents.
No brief on any question of law or fact involved in this claim was
submitted by these attorneys on behalf of the claimant, and all of
the documentary evidence filed in support of the claim was col-
lected by the claimant in Germany. It is stated in the affidavit .ri
submitted by the attorneys that their representative spent two days .
in Washington at the time of the above mentioned conference, but'
the records of the Commission show that no important conference. .1i,-1
with either the German or American Agent other than the one:.:"
above mentioned was held by the representative of these attorneys. .,
Now, therefore, considering that. the payment of the attorneys' j?
compensation was, except for a small retainer, contingent upon -
curing and collecting an award, and considering the character and '
extent and value of the services rendered by them, and in view of 'Oij
the considerations stated above and in the general Jurisdictional and,
Administrative Decision of September 28, 1928, and after caeful .
examination and full consideration of the information furnished in *
this proceeding by the attorneys and the claimant and by the records
of this Commission pertinent to the questions involved, and after i
due deliberation thereon.
The American Commissioner decides and fixes as the reasonable .
fee to be paid by the claimant, Simon Schlangen, to his said attor- ':..i
neys, Altheimer & Mayer, in this case, the sum of one thousand dol-
lars ($1,000), in addition to the sum of one hundred and seventy- ,q-"4
five dollars ($175) already paid by the claimant to the attorneys .'
for retainer and expenses, the said fee to be paid by the claimant "A.;:
and received by the attorneys as full compensation for all services
rendered in the prosecution and collection of this claim, as defined
by Section 9 of the "Settlement of War Claims Act of 1928 ".
Done at Washington, D. C., this 4th day of January, 1929. ..
Anerican Commissioner, I:
Mixed Cl imv Commission, l
United States and Germany i
o .~.~!4

A \.
: j.